March 31, 2005

Questions Raised Over Romanian Hostage Crisis

A reader from Romania has agreed to keep The Jawa Report up to speed on reactions from the Romanian press. It seems that speculation abounds that the whole hostage crisis may have been planned in advance.

He notes, though, that such conspiritorial speculation is common in his country that has seen such hard times in recent decades.

It seems that one of the hostages, Marie-Jeanne Ion, is the daughter of an important PSD member (the former government party). Thus, releasing her may be a top priority for the government. It also may explain why she was targetted.

What really seems to be raising suspicions, though, is that the entire expedition to Iraq was arranged by and planned by Omar Hayssam, who is described as a wealthy Arab immigrant to Romania. Hayssam is also being investigated for unrelated criminal activities. Hayssam is also business partners with Ion's father.

It was Hayssam that sent American Muhammed Monaf to accompany the journalists to Iraq. Mr. Hayssam also received the only known phone call demanding ransom and is said to be going to Iraq to act as an intermediary to obtain the hostages release.

This translation made by Adi, of a Jurnalul National article titled "Kidnapping or Framing?":

All the Romanians barely wait for news about the three journalists kidnapped in Baghdad. More than 48 hours have passed since their kidnapping and no official confirmation of their kidnapping has appeared. Omar Hayssam, a Romanian-Syrian businessman, is the only person to state he was contacted by an unknown person who asked, in Arabic, for a ransom in exchange for the freedom of the hostages.

On Monday, he stated for the press he received two phone calls, he was asked for money and he is willing to pay the asked sum of money for the freeing of Marie Jeanne Ion, Eduard Ovidiu Ohanesian, Sorin Miscoci and their Iraqi companion, Mahomad Munaf [ed note: Monaf is an American citizen].

Yesterday, the recording of the phone calls between Hayssam and the alleged kidnappers has entered in the possession of the specialists named by the operative group in Cotroceni.

We don't know anything about the kidnappers in Baghdad, but the person they contacted for the obtaining of the ransom has a visit card that asks for all our attention. Omar Hayssam, top billionaire, member of the Social-Democrat Party, has big problems with the law at present.

He is being investigated for money laundry and for suspicious privatizations he seems to have benefited from. In this case, he is the one who sponsored, with the help of his Iraqi-American friend Munaf, the journalists' expedition. Therefore, Munaf had to take care of everything, including the protection of the journalists. There was a total lack in it.

If we don't take into consideration all the speculations crushing down the editorial offices, as well as the fantasist hypotheses launched by all kinds of pseudo-specialists, the few certain facts draw up the picture of an atypical kidnapping, out of the ordinary ones until now.

With the support of several anti-terrorist specialists and of several connoisseurs in the realities in Iraq, we tried to put the facts in logical schemes so that it would form credible scenarios.

The four hypotheses brought up in front by the specialists we consulted, and whose names we won't publish because they are part of the information community, are as follows:

(1) The kidnapping is framed by Hayssam, with the following benefits for him: the rehabilitation in the eyes of the public opinion and of the authorities, in the case of a success in freeing the hostages; the unblocking of his accounts that the Prossecutor's Office arrested and the getting out of the country of the hypothetical sum destined to the ransom;

(2) The authors are Iraqi muggers, the so-called "Ali Baba", which wait for not such a great sum of money as ransom. In this case, the journalists have been "randomly" kidnapped;

(3) The authors are professionals, who acted according to a precise plan, with the purpose of obtaining money or a certain political claim, such as the withdrawing of the Army's troops from Iraq.

(4) Some "clips", who further sell the "catch" to the professionals, might have made the kidnapping. In this case, the ransom message usually appears in 10 days time. We should memorize that, for now, there is no certainty regarding the already received ransom message.

For each of the cases, the negotiators' role is essential. According to the information in yesterday's press, it seems that a negotiator of Omar Hayssam, introduced as Ayman Asha, has already left for Baghdad to talk with the kidnappers. Wise choice, an Arab.

The only allowed assumption by the negotiation manual for such cases. If Hayssam received the only ransom request (which the Romanian secret services investigate at present), then Ayman leaves for Baghdad sent by Hayssam. He is authorized by the Arab to negotiate. No matter what is the true version, there are a lot of signs indicating Bucharest as the key to solve this mystery.

We contacted a few people to find out their opinion about this. Protection expert Florentin Marinescu and former information minister Ion Kilin have seen each of the options as valid. Some are more probable than others, we are told. The wisest thing, and the best for the journalists, is to write and show as few information on them as possible.

Here is another article titled Scenarios on Kidnapping translated by Adi, this time from ZIUA:The kidnapping of Romanian journalists and negotiations meant to set them free are atypical and very strange. Romanian officials keep silent, the secret services are keeping a low profile, just as the terrorists.

There is a single person speaking up: Omar Hayssam! He is a businessmen related to lots of crimes and citizen of both Romania and Syria. Hayssam is member of PSD (the Social-Democrat Party), just as he is the business partner of the father of one of the journalists missing in Iraq.

But he is also a former patient of a Bucharest mental hospital! Yesterday he turned the scenario into nightmare by sending to Iraq a negotiator to decide ransom procedures involving $ 4 million. Moreover, it was not the Romanian state that negotiated the lives of our colleagues, but Omar Hayssam.

He did it shortly after getting leaving "Alexandru Obregia" psychiatry hospital. The scenario on Romanian journalists kidnapped is unique within the chain violence of this kind in Iraq. Nothing fits. Everything looks messy and nonsensical.

Yesterday Ziua daily group for action was provided with information by confidential sources. The information leads the way to hypothesis that Romanian president Traian Basescu and his policy on the Black Sea region are the target of terrorist action operated in Iraq.

The strategy on the Black Sea region is closely related to the US. Well known investigation journalist Eduard Ovidiu Ohanesian is collateral target, say Ziua sources. The investigation the Romanian journalist employed by "Romania libera" was working on was meant to unveil a thorough network of the political police within SIE (the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service).

This is said to be also connected to Moscow and to ex KGB structures and undermine Romania's new foreign affairs policy on the region.

PSD leader Adrian Nastase rejected yesterday all attempts to politicize the case of Romanian journalists who disappeared in Iraq, as well as "some people's" attempts to make use of this tragedy for publicity.

Nastase stated: " I got worried when I learning what happened. We are providing support to all Romanian authorities' initiatives meant to set free the three missing journalists. In case we are asked for support, we shall certainly provide it". Nastase mentioned that in the last two days he was permanently in touch with PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

Romanian PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated yesterday there was no official request for ransom in the case of the three Romanian journalists who disappeared while in Iraq. The Romanian PM was asked if there was such an official request received. His answer was negative: "If we had received it officially, we would have released the news." Related: 3 Romanians and One American Shown on Hostage Video
Romanian Journalists Taken Hostage in Iraq, Plea for Help
American Kidnapped in Iraq
American Hostage in Iraq

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 12:12 PM | Comments |